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Are Teacher Unions the Enemy?

Teacher unions are under attack from several sources.  Republicans in several states have proposed legislation that would bar teacher unions  from all policy decisions except negotiating compensation.  In Tennessee and Wisconsin, Republicans have proposed removing teacher collective bargaining rights.

With the issuance of “Waiting for Superman” in DVD more people will see the film which depicts teacher unions as the enemy and that charter schools are the ultimate answer to all that ails education today.  There are excellent charter schools and not so excellent charter schools.  Just as there are excellent public schools and not so excellent public schools.  Not once in the film do the producers show successful public schools.  But they do state, that only 1 in 5 charter schools is performing at a high level.

If teacher unions were the problem of low performance, then states without teacher unions like Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi would be the highest performing states in the United States – and we know that they aren’t.

Teacher tenure at the university level means life-long employment.  In the K-12 system it simply means due process.

Teacher unions do not hire incompetent teachers – administrators do.  The same administrators have three years to get rid of poorly performing, non-tenured teachers.  If anyone should be blamed for having poor teachers, it should be school administrators.

Teacher unions are a highly visible force in education.  And while I do not agree with all that they do, they do perform some vital functions.  The conservative Republicans and even Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the Obama Administration has found a high profile “enemy”.  I wish they would pursue the bank, insurance and financial industries, which brought our nation to our knees, as hard as they do the teacher unions.

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